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Equal pay by gender and by nationality. A comparative analysis of Switzerland's unequal equal pay policy regimes across time

2015, Erne, Roland, Imboden, Natalie

What explains the adoption of two different policies on equal pay by gender (EPG) and by nationality (EPN) in Switzerland? And why is the liberal, litigation-based, equal pay policy regime set up by the Gender Equality Act of 1996 much less effective than the neo-corporatist 'accompanying measures' to the Bilateral EU–Switzerland Agreement on Free Movement of Persons adopted in 1999 to ensure equal pay for workers of different national origins? The formation of two different policy regimes cannot be explained by different levels of political will. Equally, different 'varieties of capitalism' cannot explain the setup of the two different equal pay policy regimes within the very same country. Instead, our qualitative comparative analysis across time suggests that the differences can be best explained by a particular constellation of attributes, namely, the use of different policy frames – i.e. 'anti-discrimination' in the EPG and 'unfair competition' in the EPN case – and the different setting of interest politics epitomised by the opposite stances adopted by Switzerland’s employer associations in the two cases.